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Toulmin Smith

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From pillar to post

A wheezing noise, interspersed with pleas for mercy, disturbs the peace.

These issue from a Post Office official who has just completed my challenge of walking between the local branch he proposes to shut and the next one, which he deems “within the permitted distance” and easily reached by the halt and lame.

In the five miles between the two post offices are a one-in-three hill, a military firing range and a safari park filled with hungry lions. According to the government, this journey constitutes “an acceptable alternative”.

The official’s attempts to avoid this trek, citing a pressing meeting on “the modern business paradigm”, wilted in the face of local ruffians armed with pitchforks, who observed that the walk would occasion hardship for their “dear old mums”.

The only alternative is for my council to buy and run the threatened post offices, selling staples of village life such as fruit, vegetables, feathers, tar, pillories, mead and ‘Easytwitch’ net curtains.
One might have thought that the Post Office was a public service, able to run branches to meet community need. Not, it seems, in Young Brown’s world.

Lyons takes flight

It is now a year since Sir Michael Lyons’ report on local government was unceremoniously flung on the fire by Young Brown, who mollified the aggrieved knight by sending him to the BBC. I was never clear what Lyons was supposed to do there, and it seemed a strange career trajectory for a former council chief executive.

Last week I swear I saw him in cameos as a porter in Holby City, dressed as a cormorant in one of Mr Bill Oddie’s nature programmes and discussing ‘fall guys’ on Newsnight.

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